TPS096: Multichannel Output and Input

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Recording multichannel audio is the best way to take total control over your audio.

However, it can be difficult and/or pricey to achieve. Technically you can do multichannel with any mixer, even the cheapest ones. How many separate channels you’ll get is a different story.

On this episode I talk about how to use an analog mixer to output multichannel audio via Insert channels. Other topics include an update about the construction of my podcast studio, confirming that the 2i4 is indeed multichannel and a brief PSA about making sure your website is podcast ready.

State of the Studio

I’m in the process of converting my garage into a home office/studio. This space is just under 250 sq. ft. and as seen here, renovation has just begun. Studio Dec. 10 2015

It’s important to note what this space will be and what it won’t. This is not a recording studio in the sense that it will be completely isolated from sound and/or perfectly treated to prevent reverb etc.

In addition to function, I’m also a big fan of form (design). Because this space will be the place I work everyday, I want it to be a comfortable spot with plenty of natural daylight and some other features that you would not choose if you were trying to build a sound proof studio. This space will also be a sort of oasis for me in that I was the kid whose favorite place was being in his room. So comfort, look, feel, all that stuff is as important to me as how it will function as a podcast studio. You could argue that part of being great on the microphone is making your recording environment as pleasing and comfortable as possible. And yes, I am super grateful to even have the opportunity to build this space.

That said, I will be taking steps to attenuate outside noise as much as possible and I’ll likely acoustically treat the space to help minimize any potential audio issues.

One way to follow the progress of the studio is to go to patreon.com/ray and click the “Follow” button. I’ll be posting periodical updates including video, audio and images as the renovation progresses. All the updates related to the studio build will be put into the “public” feed which means you don’t have to be a Patron to see them. They’re free;) You will need to create a Patreon account however and if you’re a podcaster and you’ve heard my show, you’ll know that I think you should be using Patreon anyways, this is a great chance to start;)

There’s still a long way to go but the (concrete) floor has been poured, a couple ceiling joists that were not needed and were making the ceiling too low were removed and collar ties were added. The new wood you see (light colored) is furring to make an even surface for the drywall which will be a special type called Quietrock which is eight times the density of normal sheetrock including an acoustic gel layer in the middle. 

When you stand in the garage in its current state and speak, the bass build up is like nothing I’ve heard before. Yikes;) Throw in a lot of nasty reverb to go along with and well, let’s just hope that gets better. Once the space is finished it’s likely that I’ll have plenty of reverb issues to deal with considering it’s basically a small, less than 250 square foot, box with hard surfaces. Getting furniture and some kind of carperting will help but I also plan to add some acoustic tiles and may have to use bass traps as well. 

Some additional mods will likely include a ceiling cloud that is either an acoustic panel or a diffuser. This will hang above my desk, likely along the back wall that you see here with new wood framing.

On the right-hand wall I will likely build some kind of facade that will serve to hang a TV and allow me to put all the cabling behind so it’s unseen. That wall will likely be designed to also serve as sound diffusion.

Tasks left to do: double panel, out-swing door on the left wall, center. Replace current crumbling, carriage door with insulated, double panel, carriage doors with insulated windows. Electrical, HVAC mini-split install, insulation (hopefully closed cell, blown in), drywall (Quietrock) to help attenuate outside noise. The rest will be standard items like paint, lights, furniture, floor covering. I’ll may also attempt to stain the concrete floors. Then move in and record! Stay tuned!

Make Sure Your Website is Podcast Ready

On episode 95, I talked about the podcasting apps and directories you want to make sure you submit your podcast to for the best chance at wide distribution. In addition to that list, it’s important to make sure that your website, which hopefully you have, is ready for podcast listeners when they arrive whether they came there to listen to your podcast or not.

Some things you want to make sure your website that has your podcast on it has are an html5 compliant audio player so that anyone on an iOS or non-flash enabled mobile device can play your show. I like to put this player at the top, not the bottom like I often see, of your post so that people definitely know there is something there to listen to. Make it the first thing they see.

Each episode should have it’s own post/page that you can send people to hopefully with an easy to remember URL. On WordPress you can use the free version of the Pretty Links plugin to make custom URLs for each post such as your domain/episode number (thepodcastersstudio.com/96). The added benefit here is that those links become trackable though Pretty Links providing you with stats about how many times they’ve been clicked.

Make sure that you have subscribe links and that they are easily seen. I like to put mine in the very first widget spot so that they are above the fold and on every page. If you look at mine you’ll see that I currently include the places where I see the majority of my audience listening to my show. Having the RSS feed as well as email options are also very important.

Using Insert Channels as Direct Outputs

Mutichannel recording is a fantastic tool for getting the most control over your audio while recording and in post-production. However, a lot of podcasters do not have mixers that make this easier through a digital connection like USB2.0 into software like Adobe Audition.

That said, many of the same podcasters have mixers with Insert channels on them and it turns out you can use these channels as direct outputs. That is, you can take a cable (see below for cabling options) out of an Insert channel and put it directly into an audio recorder to record each channel that has an Insert. The catch here is that you also need an audio recorder that has multiple 1/4″ inputs.

Because this process requires very specific gear, this tutorial is likely more for someone who already has this gear and also wants to do multichannel recordings. I would not necessarily go out and buy the specific gear necessary if I wanted to do multichannel. You could just as easily spend that money on a mixers that sends all it’s channels to the computer via firewire, USB2.0 or direct to hard drive. I chose to talk about this simply because until recently I did not know this capability was possible and it’s a cool, fun option. And the more we know, the better producers we become.

Various Cabling Setups for Direct Output via Insert Channels

Below is less of a guide and more just my own personal notes about all the different options I tried. Trying each method of cabling I could think of and using what cables I had available is how I learn best. The first two options listed are the two you’ll want to use if you try using Insert channels as direct outs.

  1. 1/8” TRS w/ 1/4” TRS adapter to 1/4” TS – 1/8” TRS with 1/4” TRS adapter plugged into the Insert all the way to 1/4” TS cable plugged into recorder is passing signal through to recorder and Main Mix. Reverse does not work, sends no signal to recorder.

  2. 1/4” TRS to 1/4” TRS – Works via “one-click.” Pressed all the way into Insert, the signal also passes to Main Mix but is attenuated at least 10db.1/4” TS to 1/4” TS – 1/4” TS plugged into Insert “one-click” to 1/4” TS into recorder passes signal through to recorder and main mix. Plugged into the Insert all the way = signal interruption to Main Mix.

  3. Insert Cable (1/8” TRS to Y TS cable (Insert)) – 1/4” TS into Insert (one-click) to 1/8” TRS with 1/4” TRS adapter to ch. 1 recorder works. 1/4” TS into Insert plugged all the way interrupts signal to Main Mix. The reverse also works – 1/8” TRS to 1/4” TRS adapter into Insert “one-click” to 1/4” TS into Ch. 1 on recorder passes through to recorder and Main Mix. Plugged all the way in = interrupt to Main Mix.

  4. Insert Cable (1/4” TRS to Y TS split) – “one-click” works (sends signal to recorder and Main Mix). Pressed all the way = interrupt to Main mix. Reverse (1/4” TS in Insert “one-click” to 1/4” TRS in Ch. 1) works the same but seems to attenuate the signal to recorder.

  5. 1/4” TRS to XLR – 1/4” into Insert via “one-click works. Plugged in all the way, signal to Main Mix is attenuated.

  6. 1/8” TS to 1/4” TRS – does not work at all, any way you connect it.

Links* mentioned in this episode:

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About Ray Ortega

Full-time podcast producer and host of The Podcasters' Studio and Podcasters' Roundtable, I enjoy sharing my ten years of experience making podcasts to help others improve or start their own show.

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